Do I Have to Rake My Leaves in the Yard?

The weather has cooled off, the leaves are changing, and you’ve got pumpkins on your mind. In short, fall is here! As the trees begin to lose their foliage, you may be wondering—do I have to rake my leaves? Consider a few scenarios that may apply and advice for handling each one.

red rake with leaves in a yard

When You Should Rake Your Leaves

Here’s what you need to know if you’re ever tempted to leave leaves on your lawn:

  • Local ordinances may apply: Some cities and neighborhood HOAs have rules about removing leaves for the sake of tidiness. In this case, you should plan to rake your yard, or you could potentially face a fine.
  • Your lawn could sustain damage: Many people rake their leaves because they were taught that leaving the litter behind could suffocate the grass, invite pests and disease, block water and nutrients, and prevent new grass blades from emerging next spring. While these problems may occur under a thick layer of debris, you shouldn’t worry about removing every single leaf to protect your lawn.
  • Leaves cause other problems: In addition to threatening the health of your grass, leaves can also clog downspouts and storm drains, stain wood decks, and make sidewalks slippery.

Alternatives to Raking Leaves

If you want your leaves gone, but you don’t want to rake or use a leaf blower, try these alternative options:

  • Mow over the leaves: Wait until the fallen leaves are nice and crunchy. Then, run the lawnmower over them. (If the leaf litter is more than a few inches deep, you may need to rake a little bit first.) Mowing the leaves chops them up into tiny pieces, allowing them to protect and feed the grass. For this option, mow without a bag.
  • Turn the leaves into mulch: It’s perfectly fine to leave a thin layer of mowed leaves on the lawn, but leaf litter also makes the perfect mulch material. Relocating chopped leaves is as easy as bagging them while mowing or using the vacuum kit that came with your leaf blower. Once bagged, dump the leaves around your trees and in your garden beds to add nutrients to the soil.
  • Compost the leaves: Whether you blow, rake, or mow the leaves, consider bagging them up and adding them to your compost pile. Just be aware that leaves won’t compost themselves. They require regular turning, the right amount of moisture, and other organic material. Learn more about the basics of composting if you’re interested in this option.
  • Leave the leaves: What if you live in the country and don’t really have a lawn? Or your city doesn’t require you to remove leaves from your property? In these cases, you may decide to leave the leaves behind, assuming you don’t mind the way they look. However, not removing the leaves could result in suffocating the grass underneath. When the leaves finally blow away or are cleaned up, you could be looking at a thinning lawn or much worse, dirt in the spring. The Grounds Guys® does offer both services should your lawn be in need of a renovation.

Get Help with Fall Clean-Up

Raking the leaves can be a hassle, but leaving them could have negative consequences. Fortunately, with help from The Grounds Guys®, you can have the best of both worlds. We’ll take care of the leaves and other fall clean-up chores, freeing up your time to spend doing more of the things you love. Contact us today for a free job estimate.

Did you know? The Grounds Guys is a Neighborly company. Learn more about Neighborly’s community of home service experts at

Share Article name